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A sustainable dyeing process for recycling textiles

The aim of the project is to develop an efficient On-Off technology for sustainable dyeing and de-dyeing of cotton fabrics. The method using suitable surfactants and industrially relevant hydrophobic dyes could be an efficient response to the worldwide need for closed-loop textile recycling processes.

Aim and goal

The aim of the project is to contribute to a more sustainable society by addressing the challenge of cotton fiber recycling with focus on de-dyeing.


The environmentally costly production of virgin textile, and particularly cotton, together with the large volume of textile discarded every year is of fundamental concern. To achieve a more sustainable society, new and efficient textile recycling processes are needed. One major challenge in textile recycling is de-dyeing as the current dyeing technologies are only designed to achieve high color fastness without consideration for recycling.


In the project, a new on-off dyeing technology based on cleavable surfactants and hydrophobic dyes will be designed and evaluated. The "On" concept will capitalize on an appropriate choice of the head-group of the surfactants to control the loading of the dye particles on the fibers. The "Off" function will be ensured by the introduction of an on-demand cleavable bond in the surfactant to enable dye release from the textile. After initial evaluation of a suitable cleavable surfactant, capable of efficiently dispersing the dye and strongly binding to the fibers, the robustness of the dyeing technology against washing will be assessed on larger pieces of fabrics.


This project could have a strong impact on the textile industry by revolutionizing dyeing. The suggested concept constitutes a significant step towards improved recycling technologies that generate high-value textile fibers from textile waste and reduce the demand for virgin fibers.


Project name




RISE role in project


Project start


2015-01-01 – 2019-06-30

Total budget

5 148 000 SEK


Chalmers University of Technology




Marie Syrén

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Marie Syrén


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